Broadmeadow Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich hoped to ease star signing Mitch Oxborrow back into football with time off the bench against the Jets Youth on Sunday at Magic Park.
And the man himself didn’t think he would have to do too much given how well third-placed Magic have been performing in the Northern NSW NPL.
But a spate of injuries and a suspension are likely to put the former Jets, Glory and Roar midfielder in a key role from the kick-off in his second stint with the club.
Oxborrow starred in a six-game stay last year before joining the Roar and he returned this week as an injury replacement for Alex Kantarovski (knee) in time for the round-nine game.
Zadkovich said he might have started Oxborrow on the bench, given his two-week break from training, if he had enough fit players.
But that was looking unlikely. Forwards Kale Bradbery, James Virgili and John Majurovski are in doubt. Bradbery has had an injection in his knee, Virgili is working back from a dislocated shoulder and Majurovski was “still ginger” on a rolled ankle. Dino Fajkovic is serving the second of a two-game ban and Soma Takeba (knee) is out for two months.
Zadkovich was unsure what his starting side would look like on Sunday but he was certainly glad to have Oxborrow “ready to go”.
“He just sees what others can’t see,” he said. “He sees the pass a bit quicker, he can disguise it and he’s got a good passing range so he can definitely bring others into play. But he’s also got goals in him. He scored three in six games last year for us.
“It’s just about finding the right balance with the team. We’re going along quite nicely, so it’s an interesting headache to have if everyone one was fit.”
Oxborrow said it was tough to leave Magic before the finals last year and he was keen to be part of the whole campaign this time.
“The boys are flying and I don’t think I need to come in and do too much,” he said. “I’ve just got to work hard, and the results should follow if you work hard for each other. And the goals will come as well because the front three we’ve got are lethal.”
Jets Youth coach Lawrie McKinna expected to have Maki Petratos, Jack Simmons and Ryan Goodhew back. His squad head to the Kong Kong Soccer Sevens on Wednesday.
Also Sunday, Edgeworth host Adamstown and Valentine travel to Charlestown.
On Saturday, Lambton Jaffas expect to debut former Jets Youth player Finn Parris against Hamilton at Edden Oval.
Parris joined the club this week after returning from overseas and coach James Pascoe said he would feature. He boosts a squad missing Jobe Wheelhouse (ankle), Nathan Verity, Joel Griffiths (away) and Michael Kantarovski (quad). Luke Remington (ankle) is in doubt.
Wheelhouse is battling to come back from ankle surgery and Pascoe said he “won’t be available for a week or two” but he was “comfortable to give it another crack” after gaining medical advise.
Lake Macquarie host Maitland on Saturday (7.30pm).
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.